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Mission & Values

Our Mission

Breakthrough New York empowers motivated students from low-income backgrounds to graduate from college and pursue a fulfilling career.

The Need

New York City is a community that powers itself on a talented and diverse workforce. In order to harness this potential, our city needs access to high-quality and equitable education.


Employment rate for young adults with a high school degree


Employment rate for young adults with a bachelor's degree or higher

A four-year college degree is the most effective tool to climb the social and economic ladder—but access to a degree is not the same for everyone.

66% of college students in New York City graduate within 6 years. Only 33% of low-income college students graduate within 6 years.


Working age adults in the Upper East Side, Manhattan with a college degree


Working age adults in East New York, Brooklyn with a college degree

The road to college starts in middle school. Students who grow up in low-income communities are less likely to attend a high school that prepares them well for college. This specifically has a negative effect on Black and Latinx communities.

Students thrive when they enroll in enriching out-of-school activities. They are also more engaged in school when they are taught by diverse teachers and mentors. Students are then able to build intellectual, social, and leadership skills that prepare them for success as adults.


NYC population who are Black or Latinx


Students in NYC specialized high schools who are Black or Latinx

Our Core Values

We are…

Breakthrough students are powerful individuals who shape their own lives, the organization, and the world. Breakthrough New York is a place for students to celebrate their accomplishments and have their voices heard.

Committed to Social Justice

We recognize the power structures that create barriers to our lives. We work to achieve access and equity for our communities through the transformative power of education.


We value, protect, and cultivate community by empowering all individuals to be their best selves, supporting one another, and honoring the differences and connections between us. 


We always operate with honesty, integrity, and a commitment to doing what is right. We hold ourselves accountable for our impact and always put in our best effort. 

Lifelong Learners

Today we are learners; tomorrow we will lead. Learning is fun, continuous, and powerful.

All In

We show up with passion, joy and spirit. We work hard and aim high because we are deeply dedicated to changing lives and changing the world.

Breakthrough New York Supports #BlackLivesMatter

Social Justice Guidelines

Breakthrough New York is a broad and diverse community, and we seek to build a more equitable and inclusive environment where all students and staff can thrive. We acknowledge and hold ourselves accountable to dismantling systemic racism and the entrenched inequities within our school system. We – staff, students, families, volunteers, board members, and supporters – pledge to uphold the following expectations in our engagements with each other:

We view each other as individuals and not stereotypes.

We check our assumptions and positionality. We avoid making assumptions or drawing conclusions about others based on our own identity, experiences, and social awareness. We focus our conversations on individuals’ interests and goals, and listen with the intention of building knowledge and support.

We acknowledge that all Breakthrough New York community members add value to our work and deserve respect.

Supporters are not saviors, nor are Breakthrough students helpless. We approach our interactions with each other from an asset-based perspective and with a spirit of learning and inclusivity. Our students and families bring skills, commitment, and knowledge that we do not have. Our staff and supporters are committed to Breakthrough New York’s mission and are dedicating time and resources to making our work possible. By working together, we can all learn from and support one another. 

We understand our biases and how they impact our interactions.

Social justice and awareness is an ongoing learning process. As our social justice practice evolves, we recognize and criticize the systemic barriers that limit access to a high-quality education, build our cultural competency, and acknowledge our own position, privilege, and power.

We hear different perspectives and learn about the experiences of those from different backgrounds.

There will be situations that we do not understand or relate to, but we can demonstrate care by asking the person how we can support them. We will use the stories that we hear to expand our individual knowledge and begin the collective work that needs to be done to break down barriers of oppression.

Our History

Breakthrough New York first launched in 1999 under the fiscal sponsorship of The Town School, an independent day school in Manhattan. We began as a summer program for middle school students from low-income backgrounds, focusing on reversing the “summer slide,” which is the loss of academic skills during summer vacation.

We have since evolved our model to meet the needs of New York City students and their families. Today, we support each Breakthrough New York cohort for ten years and serve students at sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

39 Broadway, Suite 820
New York, NY 10006
[email protected]
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